16 Slimy Tricks Recruiters Use To Hook You


The first time you logged into LinkedIn to find a message from a recruiter awaiting, chances are you felt a jolt of excitement.


"You didn't care if the job description was remarkably vague or even a clear mismatch for your skills," says Lauren Gard, a manager at Hired, a two-year-old tech career marketplace. "Memories of long hours spent job-hunting vanished as the realization washed over you that someone is finally seeking you out. You felt as though you had finally arrived!"

Unfortunately, she says, in this day and age of "recruiting overload," that feeling is not likely to last long. "Tech workers, in particular, are getting hit the hardest as recruiters barrage potential candidates day in and day out to meet the high demand for talent," she says.

Matt Mickiewicz, cofounder and CEO of Hired, says in the vast majority of cases, recruiters have no way of knowing if someone is open to changing jobs, and they're often way off the mark or frustratingly vague in the initial job descriptions they share. "So, much of the time, getting approached by recruiters is nothing but a distraction and a waste of your time."

But, most people will be approached at some point in their career, and it's important for you to know what to look out for if you choose to engage. "Few people - particularly those new to the recruiting game - realize that the potential reward for a recruiter who succeeds in placing a new hire can be tens of thousands of dollars," Mickiewicz explains. "For instance, a typical Silicon Valley recruiter's payout is 20% to 25% of a new hire's first-year compensation, and that rate can climb higher. Once you're aware of the numbers at stake, some of the aggressive behaviors start making a lot more sense."


Hired's team of talent advocates (the people who work with job candidates on Hired's platform who used to be traditional recruiters) and in-house engineers came up with a list of the underhanded tactics they've seen recruiters use. Here are 16 of the slimiest ones:

1. Using multiple Google Voice numbers to trick you into answering your cell phone, and calling incessantly. (And then not reimbursing you for the necessary repairs needed when, after finally picking up, you lob your phone clear across the room.)

2. Creating splashy-sounding Meetup and Eventbrite events at a major tech conference just to collect email addresses, then canceling them at the last minute.

3. Neglecting to tell you the job at hand is a contract position until final negotiations, when you're informed that while the employer loves you, they're not entirely sure they want to commit to full-time before testing you out.

4. Falsifying a company's contract conversion rates to make it seem more likely you'll become full-time within a year.


5. Suddenly divulging "inside information" about how the company you're most excited about is falling apart at the seams so you'll accept a competing offer.

6. Spamming you and every one of your team members with a seemingly personalized email about how impressed a company is with your unique skillset.

7. Classifying LinkedIn InMails as "Expertise Requests" instead of "Career Opportunities."

8. Not being upfront about a position, from what it pays to your title to what you'd actually be doing in the hopes that if they lure you in with impressive fluff before dropping the bomb ("so, you'd only make X and wouldn't be a manager, per se…") you'll actually consider it.

9. Using throw-away clients to vet you before presenting you to their top accounts.


10. Claiming no other companies are interested in you in order to push through the offer on the table.

11. Browsing your LinkedIn connections and then pretending that one of them referred them to you. ("Larry says you're a whiz when it comes to X!")

12. Referencing personal details they dug up online during the initial conversation. ("I'm, like, a massive fan of classical music, too - did you know this company is just a few blocks from the San Francisco Symphony?" Or worse, "I was so moved by your blog post about your daughter's struggle with XYZ disease - this company offers the best healthcare plan I've ever seen.")

13. Getting you on the line at work by telling your company's receptionist they're calling for a quick reference check on someone else.

14. Showing up at an event for a charity you actually care about and shoving a card into your hand within seconds of shaking it.


15. Talking up the few big-name companies they (supposedly) work with to get your attention, and then sending you out to sub-par companies with low bars for hiring.

16. Knocking on your front door if you've gone MIA for more than a day during final offer discussions.

Mickiewicz says tactics such as these are common in the recruiting world, "where recruiters are often paid modest base salaries and given quotas they must hit to earn their commissions," he explains. "There are indeed many skilled recruiters out there who don't need to rely on sketchy tactics to place candidates in new jobs - but particularly when there's a shortage of candidates for in-demand positions, such as tech workers, the attitude too often becomes, 'anything goes,'" he concludes.